Dell’s Great Idea: Ideastorm.com Crowdsourcing Engagement

Crowdsourcing is according to the crowdsourcing wikipedia: “the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call.”

Dell Ideastorm

Crowdsourcing is becoming a method of measuring audience participation, company engagement within their niche, identifying opportunity, and how to recognize their audience and consumers for their great ideas.

Architecture of Participation

According to Tim O’Reilly, the man behind the definition of Web 2.0, Web 2.0 is built on an “architecture of participation.” Consequently, crowdsourcing is a fantastic method to tap into the vast resource that is human capital on the Internet, discover new ideas for products or services, and measure your message. This concept hinges on one idea: harnessing collective intelligence.

Harnessing Collective Intelligence

Tim ‘OReilly posited in 2005 that “The central principle behind the success of the giants that lead the Web 2.0 era appears to be. . . that they have embraced the power of the web to harness collective intelligence.”

Crowdsourcing: Dell’s Ideastorm.com

A great example of mining for ideas on products, services, best practices, policy, and a number of other business concepts is Dell Computers’ crowdsourcing site ideastorm.com. Dell’s tagline for ideastorm “Where Your Ideas Reign.”

Dell’s Ideastorm.com is responsible for the following:

Conclusion

Any entrepreneur, small business, large corporation, or job seeker can utilize “crowdsourcing” for their own purposes. One added benefit of crowdsourcing is the fact that it is an entry point for any job seeker or entrepreneur looking for opportunities. If an individual showcases their expertise and talents they have a solid chance of being noticed and opening the lines of communication with their intended targeted audience(s).

Vista Print’s No Customer Service: Consumeraffairs.com Documents Complaints

Consumeraffairs logo

Courtesy of Consumeraffairs.com

According to Consumeraffairs.com VistaPrint has many dissatisfied and angry ex-customers with complaints aka nightmares ranging from customer service to billing. VistaPrint is a low budget, high promise printer. Vistaprint.com makes it’s living, not on the quality of it’s products, on the shipping fees it charges for it’s orders. With the knowledge VistaPrint was all about the “delivery”, I assumed that they would be able to print and deliver my cards to my home before my deadline: WRONG.

Three (3) Business Days?

We placed our rush 3 business day ship order on Monday April 27 with the idea that Vista Print would deliver our cards in 3 business days ie. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday with the product arriving either Thursday April 30 or the morning of May 1, 2009.

My Mistake

When we ordered the cards, we did not read the fine print which states that orders placed after 5pm PST would be placed as orders for the following day. Consequently, Vistaprint’s promise of a 3 day ship would give up to 5pm Friday May 1 to deliver our cards.

My Problem

We needed business cards for a conference that we were speaking at in San Francisco. We had to have the cards no later than 12:30pm Friday May 1. When we had to leave for the conference, our cards were no where to be found.

Complaint Button

Vistaprint’s Solution to My Problem: No Customer Service

I called asking for a refund on my shipping fees of $30.80 (3 business day rush shipping). I was told by a customer service rep that they could not help me and they fulfilled their end of the “contract.”

I pointed out that 3 days is not a rush in my opinion, that $31 for shipping is not cheap, and that the cards never arrived in time for me to use them. The answer to my plea was simple and stern: NO REFUND.

Final Offer: Remain a Customer or Leave

My final offer was simple and one that I have made in the past when I felt I was getting the raw end of a deal. I offered to remain a Vistaprint customer if they provided a refund on my shipping fees. I promised to be a consumer affairs advocate fighting hard to highlight the no customer service I was receiving if they denied my request. Guess what happened?

Top 10 Page 1 Google Search: “Vistaprint complaints”

Here is a library, and it is so much longer, list of the complaints detailed and often lodged against Vistaprint:

  1. Consumeraffairs.com: “Consumer complaints about VistaPrint.com
  2. Smartmoney.com: “VistaPrint Faces Complaints Over Third-Party Bills
  3. thestreet.com: “VistaPrint Can’t Hear the Knockin
  4. Complaintsboard.com: “List of VistaPrint Complaints
  5. PlanetMike.com: “VistaPrint Sucks!

Job Seekers and Entrepreneurs: Drive Your Competition Crazy

Reality Check

“If any of my competitors were drowning, I’d stick a hose in their mouth.” Ray Kroc

Harsh words no doubt but if you have ever read about McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc they fit his personality. Unlike Mr. Kroc’s take no prisoners attitude, Guy Kawasaki suggests that the best way drive your competition crazy is by “constantly innovating and serving your customers.”

If you are a entrepreneur or a job seeker go buy Guy Kawsaki’s latest book “Reality Check.” Begin on Chapter 66 with “The Art of Driving Your Competition Crazy” for the best practical advice on how to stand out, be memorable, and create your differentiating factor. Also check out the blog for more information. Although there are 8 important steps worth serious consideration, one stands out as the theme of Kawasaki’s advice: Focus on the Customer.

Focus on the Customer:  Entrepreneur

The irony here is that rather than trying to do something to your competitor(s), “the best way to drive your competition crazy is not to do anything to it.” The strategy to success is to focus on your customer by concentrating on great customer service, out-innovating the competition, and out-pricing them.

Focus on the Hiring Manager: Job Seeker

In the same respects there is an irony in this situation too. Instead of the job seeker attempting to out sell, out brag, or out maneuver his/her resume to be the best resume, the job seeker needs to concentrate on the hiring manager’s happiness.

This happiness can be achieved by creating value through a blog, a great Linkedin profile, and a social media broadcasting system. The goal for job seekers should be to remove the resume review process, time lost, costly hours wasted by a hiring manager who does not want to go through this process. By making a valuable case and delivering a message of value through target marketing, job seekers could completely remove this burden from the hiring manager.

Realtor’s 10 Step Process to Handling Customer Problems

FoxBusiness.com published this deansguide article October 17, 2008

Today’s Realtor faces challenges from a suffering economy, unavailability of credit, changing political landscape, and an overall public perception that “all is not well.” In the most competitive times in recent history for agents, it is of the utmost importance that a Realtor make the most of every single opportunity. A large number of opportunities are born out of obstacles or challenges within the real estate transaction.

Consequently a Realtor must have a set of processes that bring about solution that can be mobilized quickly in order to head off the worst scenario possible: a totally dissatisfied customer.

10 Steps to Handling Problems

1. Acknowledge Dissatisfaction and agree with the complaint if it is valid

2. Apologize for the problems leading to dissatisfaction

3. Ask Permission to revisit and outline the series of events leading to the disatisfaction

4. Acknowlege Responsibility for the actions leading to disatsifaction if it is valid

5. Provide Multiple Scenario solutions to the problem at hand

6. Ask Your Client if they have an alternative solution you did not name

7. Make Certain that the client has chosen a solution that meets their expectations

8. Outline a Schedule for the actions and the completion of the “fix”

9. Keep Client Informed by providing reports during the process of rectifying the situation

10. Upon Completion ask and obtain an agreement, verbal, that the client is satisfied with the solutions provided and everything involved with the “fix” upon completion

If you follow these 10 tips you will avoid the nasty fall out from “reverse viral marketing” where a dissatisfied client tells many friends, associates, and anyone who will listen their “perception” of your poor performance.

Realtor’s Business Diagnostic Test #1: A-E-I-O-U And Sometimes Y

How often do you perform a diagnostic test on your business, it’s processes, and the overall health of your organization? Now might be a great time to take on this task; the results may surprise you as well as provide areas to improve upon. When learning the English language one of the first concepts was your vowels. Borrowing from this lesson, try applying the “A-E-I-O-U and sometimes Y” diagnostic test to your business.

A-E-I-O-U And Sometimes Y

A- Alternatives: How often do you research different solutions (alternatives) that could be applied to your business processes or mission that would improve what you already do well?

E-Education: Do you seek to educate yourself, your staff, and your customers with the most up to date, cutting edge industry specific information on an ongoing basis?

I-Intelligence: I am not referring to your intelligence or smarts but rather industry information about trends, competitors, products, services, or changes that will effect your business and the consumer

O-Observation: Observation testing according to act.org “measures the skill people use when they pay attention to and remember work-related instructions, demonstrations, and procedures.” Do you pay attention and more importantly do you pay attention to detail within your business?

U-Understanding: Don Clark’s “Continuum of Understanding” has a great quote: The greater one understands the subject matter, the more one is able to weave past experiences (context) into new knowledge by absorbing, doing, interacting, and reflecting. Total Awareness of your business!

Sometimes Y-You: You and only You are the difference between your accomplishments and your failures. Your thoughts and your ability to dismantle doubt are the most important part of this exercise. If you feel intimidated then you will be but if you feel open to success then success will follow you

Gateway Notebook MT 3705 Review: Acer’s No Customer Service And Equipment Defects–Can You Spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E?

After less than one year of ownership, I am sad to report that my fantastic buy on the Gateway MT 3705 Notebook computer may have been a case of buyer beware. My initial excitement for the Gateway is chronicled in “Best Buy’s Best Deal Of The Year: Gateway Notebook MT 3705 $549!!!” Unfortunately the following problems or events have forced me to write this review–do NOT purchase this Gateway MT 3705 Notebook:

1. Equipment Failure

After 8 1/2 months of moderate usage, my Gateway has gone from valued business tool to doorstop. The screen display goes black after a few minutes. With no way to return my screen, I am often forced to reboot in order to see a display. Anything I was working on is lost or interrupted in the most annoying and costly manner–loss of time.

Follow these links for negative aspects expressed by Gateway MT 3705 users: keyboard, review #6 sticking buttons, and battery issue review “Cons” Middy last on page.

When the unit is left on a desk or table or in my lap it seems to get hot. I believe it may over heat and this may cause the screen to go blank. But I don’t know anything because

2. Gateway No Longer Exists

Gateway, a company that modeled it’s retail stores after Apple stores, is no longer in existence after being bought by Acer. No retail stores, no customer service help, no place to go except

3. Acer Customer No Service

When I followed up to try to find customer service help, I was pushed into the Acer labyrinth for Customer Service. My “tech support” (I USE THIS TERM VERY LOOSELY) agent seemed like a bored high school kid forced to work on her spring break. Here are the options I was presented:

a.) Acer would pay a “portion” of the costs
b.) Acer wants me to send the Notebook to them with a turn around time of 6-8 wks
c.) Acer suggested that without a warranty they are absolved of any responsibility even though their product is defective

ACER Please Help “SOS”

If any Acer representative, with some pull, would like to rectify this situation by repairing my Notebook or replacing it with a NON defective unit please CALL dean at 415 410.7524.